Members' Lectures
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Watch again: Members' Lectures

From the Romans arriving in Britain to Charles Darwin's expirments at his home, rewatch our previous lectures delivered virtually by our experts and historians exclusively for our Members. 


Kevin Booth, Senior Curator

Originally aired Tuesday 26 March 2024, 6pm–7pm

In September 1991 members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) closed the door on their Group Control in York for the final time. Using testimony of the observers themselves, this lecture will document the end of the cold war through the prism of the ROC volunteers and the building they staffed. It is a story of service and pride, of memories and friendships, and of how the cold war’s end may be symbolised in a half used bottle of washing up liquid.

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Behind the Glitter: The Making of the J.W. Evans Silverware Factory

Bethan Stanley, Senior Collections Conservator

Originally aired Tuesday 27 February 2024, 6pm–7pm

Behind the unassuming Victorian terraced frontages of 54-57 Albion Street is a forgotten world, a frozen snapshot of the silverware trade that made Birmingham famous throughout the world. For over 125 years three generations of the Evans family were part of a tight network of small companies inhabiting the modest streets of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Learn about this unseen world, the people who worked there and the unique challenge of conserving this site while retaining the untouched atmosphere still present within its walls.

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Fighting for Freedom: Kenwood and the Case of Somerset v Stewart

Dr Dominique Bouchard, Head of Learning and Interpretation

Originally aired Tuesday 30 January 2024, 6pm–7pm

Delve into one of the most important legal decisions that most people have never heard of: Somerset v Stewart. The case was instrumental in Britain’s eventual abolition of slavery and the slave trade, but much about the central figure in the case, James Somerset, remains a mystery even today. When the verdict was announced, it sent political and legal shockwaves through the Britain and its American colonies. Although the decision was technically a narrow one, it was popularly taken to mean that slavery was illegal in England.

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The Iron Bridge and the heart of industry

Dr Matt Thompson, Interim Curatorial Director

Originally aired on Tuesday 12 December 2023, 6pm–7pm

The Iron Bridge opened to the public on New Year’s Day 1781. Almost 250 years before this King Henry VIII brought about the dissolution of the monasteries which saw the wholesale redistribution of land and the mineral wealth it held into secular hands. The Iron Bridge is literally and figuratively at the heart of a ‘long Industrial Revolution’ that spans 500 years from the Reformation to today. 

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The Discovery of Hadrian's Wall

Dr Frances McIntosh, Curator (Hadrian's Wall and the North East)

Originally aired on Tuesday 28 November 2023, 6pm–7pm

In the nineteenth century the wall crossing England from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway was known as the Roman Wall. There was no consensus as to when it was built, nor by whom. John Clayton played a key role in the work to excavate and study the wall, providing evidence that helped to date its construction and understand its many facets. His inheritance of Chesters Roman Fort in 1832 kickstarted his work, and the finds displayed in the museum tell the story of this exciting time in the archaeology of Hadrian’s Wall.

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The first farmers: Neolithic Britain

Dr Jennifer Wexler, Properties Historian (Prehistoric Specialist)

Originally aired on Tuesday 31 October 2023, 6pm–7pm

The Neolithic was a time of incredible transformations. Early farming communities arriving from Europe around 6,000 years ago brought new ideas and technologies that revolutionised our relationship to nature and the landscape of the British Isles. They built elaborate, evocative monuments – henges, stone and timber circles – bringing together people, materials, and objects over long distances. The changing religious, political and social practices required to undertake such creative feats remain compelling, and this talk will look at the developments of the Neolithic and how they continue to impact us today.

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Past lectures

  • Louise Cooling: The life and works of Sir Joshua Reynolds

    Originally aired Tuesday 11 April 2023 

  • Samantha Stones: Isabella de Fortibus and Carisbrooke Castle

    Originally aired Tuesday 7 March 2023 

  • Eleanor Matthews: Cooks, chauffeurs and coachmen - life at Brodsworth Hall

    Originally aired Tuesday 7 February 2023 

  • Dr Michael Klemperer: The Evolving Garden History of Belsay Hall

    Originally aired Tuesday 10 January 2023 

  • Dr Michael Carter: A Merry Monastic Christmas

    Originally aired Tuesday 13 December 2022 

  • Dr Matt Thompson: To the Heart of the Stone

    Originally aired Tuesday 8 November 2022 

  • Roy Porter: Anatomising the Battle of Hastings

    Originally aired Tuesday 18 October 2022 

  • Dr Megan Leyland: Henrietta Howard and her retreat at Marble Hill

    Originally aired Tuesday 8 March 2022

  • Emily Parker: Charles Darwin's Living Laboratory at Down House

    Originally aired Tuesday 8 February 2022

  • Paul Pattison: Richborough Roman Fort Gateway to Britannia

    Originally aired Tuesday 11 January 2022

  • Alice Tate-Harte: Conserving the Vegetable Seller by Joachim Beuckelear

    Originally aired Tuesday 7 December 2021

  • Dr Michael Carter: What happened to England's Monastic Treasures

    Originally aired Tuesday 2 November 2021

  • Dr Jeremy Ashbee: Life and Death in a Medieval Castle

    Originally aired Tuesday 5 October 2021 

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